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Sep. 20, 2017
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High school, college rowing regattas at LLOP this month

By Jane Harrison
 
A regional high school regatta and national college rowing championship will bring thousands of rowers and their supporters to Lake Lanier Olympic Park this month. High school athletes will race May 13-14 in the Southeast Regional Youth Regatta. College clubs hit the water May 27-28 in the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship.
 
The regattas, hosted by the Lake Lanier Rowing Club and Gainesville-Hall ’96, are expected to bring about 1,500 participants and 500 to 1,000 spectators. John Ferriss, the rowing club’s regatta specialist, said the youth regatta will likely fill more grandstand seats and hotel rooms with youngsters’ parents than the ACRA competition Memorial Day weekend.
 
Crews from LLRC and Riverside Military Academy are among those competing in the regional youth regatta for a shot at the US Rowing National Championship in June in Sarasota, Fla. High school teams from Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, and Tennessee will stroke in preliminary heats in eight- to single-seat boats starting around 9:30 Saturday morning. Finals wind down around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, pending no weather delays.
 
US Rowing annually alternates the regional regatta between Florida and upper southern states. “They seem to be happy here,” said Ferriss.
 
ACRA officials also favor LLOP, their national championship site for seven consecutive years. ACRA is composed of club teams that do not have official college affiliation. The high profile regatta draws crews from across the country for their season’s grand finale.
 
Ferriss said local entities actually run both events, with Gainesville-Hall ’96 in charge of all venue-related matters and LLRC providing motor boats and on-the water support. US Rowing and ACRA bring their own officials. Organizers plan to fill 150 volunteer slots to work the regattas. Ferris said parents of LLRC junior rowers “play a major role” as volunteers. About 23 LLRC youths will compete.
 
Ferriss does not expect low lake levels to hamper the competition. But, it will likely move the launching and disembarking sites from behind the boathouse to docks placed elsewhere on shore. He noted that crews in the John Hunter Regatta in March adapted well to docks set up behind venue’s equipment building. In late April, with the lake down about eight feet, the drop from the platform behind the boathouse and the water was too steep to connect the docks.
 
The two weekends of rowing regattas follow a high stakes national canoe/kayak team trial at LLOP May 20.

Posted online 5/1/17
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